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Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (1869-1887)

Notes by Michael-Thomas Foumai

By day, Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was a doctor and chemist who contributed to the field of organic chemistry. At night, he was a composer. Borodin's opera Prince Igor, left unfinished when he died, was completed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov. The opera centers on the Rus' Prince, Igor Svyatoslavich, and his 1185 campaign against the Turkic Cuman or "Polovtsian" invasion. The 14-minute Polovtsian Dances occurs at the end of the second act, when the Prince is held captive, and the Polovtsian Khan attempts to lift Igor's spirit with servants who recount the sights, sounds, and dances of their homeland.

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